Zhao Yunlan wakes up with a flutter of anticipation in his stomach, and he smiles into the pillow as he shakes off the last haze of sleep. He's also terribly hungry, because he skipped dinner last night, but the other feeling is definitely anticipation.
He shifts a few inches until he can fit his body against Shen Wei's side, dropping a sleepy kiss on his shoulder. That's all the communication Shen Wei will get from him until he's had his first bite of breakfast.
"Morning," Shen Wei murmurs, brushing his lips against Zhao Yunlan's hair. "Happy birthday."
Getting that out of the way early, Zhao Yunlan thinks, and then lifts his head to press his smile against Shen Wei's lips, quick and sweet. He'll need another minute or two before he can think of moving his entire body to the bathroom.
"You were home late," Shen Wei says softly, his hand coming up to stroke over Zhao Yunlan's arm.
"Mm," he manages.
"Made progress in your case?"
So maybe he stayed longer to sort through all the damn clues again, creating an airtight catalog of suspects and evidence that should mean less work today.
Just in case.
"I'll go make breakfast," Shen Wei says, accompanied by an approximation of a one-armed hug, and then he untangles himself from Zhao Yunlan to get up. "Don't fall asleep again."
"Mm," Zhao Yunlan promises.
He does love watching Shen Wei leave if it's for cooking reasons. Plus, he's wearing a tank top with his pajama pants, which Zhao Yunlan can only assume is part of his present.
He makes sure to appreciate it properly, already feeling a little less sleepy.
Shen Wei has been as tight-lipped about his plans for today as he had been about any details pertaining to his own birthday, or First Flowering, or naming day. Zhao Yunlan has been soaking up all information about Dixing traditions and celebrations, becoming increasingly immune to his team's wary looks. Whatever, they can answer some questions.
But he has no idea what Shen Wei has been cooking up.
The thought frustrates and excites him to no end.
He is still, come to think of it, terribly hungry, which finally gets him to work himself into a more or less vertical state and shuffle toward the bathroom. Breakfast will be worth it.
"You've outdone yourself," he exclaims a little while later, through a mouthful of dumpling. "These are amazing."
Shen Wei just smiles and puts another one on his plate, then ladles more soup into his bowl. "I'm glad."
"I can't even imagine what kind of delicacies you have planned for my party," Zhao Yunlan wheedles, trying out his best puppy eyes and hopeful pout on his husband. Shen Wei is wearing dark slacks and a blue dress shirt now, but Zhao Yunlan knows what he looks like wearing nothing at all, and he does frequently feel smug about it.
"What party?" Shen Wei says, his face entirely blank.
"Ah!" Zhao Yunlan says, wagging his finger at him. "Very good."
"I don't have a party planned, Zhao Yunlan," Shen Wei says slowly.
Zhao Yunlan squints at him.
"Would you have liked a party?"
Zhao Yunlan abandons the squint and pauses to think for a moment. "I can spend time with the squad whenever," he says with a shrug, shoveling more food into his mouth.
Shen Wei seems to relax at that, not that he seemed tense before. "That's what Chu Shuzhi said." At Zhao Yunlan's surprised look, he adds, "His exact words were: Order takeout, gather everyone around the table, there's your party. Doesn't matter what day it is."
He probably didn't smile when he said that, unlike Shen Wei.
"That sounds like Lao Chu," Zhao Yunlan agrees.
"Da Qing said there's no point in baking you a cake."
Once again, Zhao Yunlan looks up from his plate, a bunch of noodles halfway to his mouth.
"He's already got a favorite; you can just buy it," Shen Wei quotes. "He gave me the address of the bakery."
"I see," Zhao Yunlan says between slurps. He wipes his mouth once he's swallowed it all down, going for his soup bowl. "Any more advice you got from my underlings?"
"Guo Changcheng saw a leather jacket he thought you might like," Shen Wei says carefully, his eyes not leaving Zhao Yunlan's face. "But he didn't have enough money to buy it at the time and he forgot which store he saw it in."
Zhao Yunlan almost chokes on his soup.
"He was very sorry."
"I bet," Zhao Yunlan says, setting down his bowl. "Did Lao Chu have words with him?"
"Idiot," Shen Wei growls, miming some good-natured physical abuse, and Zhao Yunlan is glad he didn't attempt to have more soup.
"Uncanny," he wheezes, genuinely impressed. "Can you do Hong-jie as well?"
Shen Wei coughs into his tea cup. "I'd rather not."
"It is my birthday."
Shen Wei takes a sip of tea, the coward, and then puts the cup down. "I talked to your father."
This entire breakfast has been such a journey. He stares at Shen Wei.
"He said he would like to spend more time with you," Shen Wei says carefully. "But it doesn't have to be your birthday, he said."
Figures, Zhao Yunlan thinks.
"He doesn't want to stir up bad memories."
"I'll call him," Zhao Yunlan says, and he finds that he means it. Shen Wei's hand gently covers his and they're both quiet for a bit. Zhao Yunlan swallows. "So you didn't organize a party for me, and you didn't bake me a cake, and you didn't buy me a leather jacket."
"That is correct," Shen Wei smiles, still holding his hand. "I did, very briefly, consider murdering someone and leaving little clues strewn around the city. Since you like a good puzzle."
Zhao Yunlan blinks at him.
"That was a joke," Shen Wei says helpfully, then tilts his head at him, his thumb slowly stroking over Zhao Yunlan's. "Unless you'd like that."
Yunlan drops his chopsticks and leans over the kitchen bar, curling his fingers into Shen Wei's shirt as he kisses him, an entirely inappropriate heat curling in his lower parts. "That was the hottest thing you've ever said to me," he whispers, not quite able to let go of Shen Wei yet.
"I'm not going to murder someone for you," Shen Wei says, his ears red and his eyes a little darker than before.
"Shush," Zhao Yunlan murmurs, nudging his lips against Shen Wei's, fluttering kisses over his cheek. "Let me pretend for a minute."
He eases back into his seat eventually, slowly detaching his hand from Shen Wei's shirt. It barely left a crease.
"I would have found you, of course," he feels the need to point out.
"Or whomever I decided to frame for the act," Shen Wei says evenly.
Zhao Yunlan ends up creasing his shirt some more. Shen Wei's lips look red and well-kissed when he pulls away.
"I forgive you for not throwing me a party," he says a little breathlessly, picking up his chopsticks again with mostly steady hands.
Shen Wei smiles at him, his thumb delicately wiping at his mouth. He picks up his own bowl of rice, the color high in his cheeks. "I appreciate that," he says, and then has a few bites before looking up, catching Zhao Yunlan's gaze. "People are very glad you exist, too," he says softly.
"Yeah, yeah," Zhao Yunlan says, waving a hand. Maybe his cheeks feel a little warm as well.
"They even indicated they could do without you for a few days, after all the work you did last night."
Zhao Yunlan frowns at him, waiting for the catch.
"I'm done with all my grading," Shen Wei says, somehow managing to make that sound hot, too. Maybe there's something wrong with Zhao Yunlan. "And my classes are taken care of for the rest of the week."
"Happy birthday," Shen Wei says again, quieter this time. "We can do whatever you want. Anywhere you want to go, I can take you. A wide open road for your bike. A private beach where the sun is high in the sky. Any city you might want to explore. I'll take you there, Zhao Yunlan."
"Shen Wei," Zhao Yunlan says, swallowing and swallowing. He takes Shen Wei's hand and draws it to his mouth to kiss a knuckle. "Come back to bed with me."
Shen Wei laughs softly. "I can do that too."
Shen Wei's eyes dart to the leftovers he would usually put into plastic containers now, the dishes he'd wash right away. "Now," he confirms, getting up and reaching out his hand.
"I love you," Zhao Yunlan says, kissing him again. It's a gentler, quieter thing this time. "Join me when you're done." He runs his fingertips down Shen Wei's spine, pressing slow kisses against his cheek and his jaw. "I assume you'll make up for the present I didn't get."
"I'll do my best," Shen Wei says. Zhao Yunlan can barely look at him, he's so beautiful, and he looks so happy, and Zhao Yunlan made him look like that.
"Let's stick a pin in the road trip idea, though."
He leaves Shen Wei to the dishes, Shen Wei's soft laugh in his ears and the feeling of his skin still tingling on his lips, and he feels like every day will be his birthday from now on.